The 2013-14 season was one to forget for Manchester United with David Moyes not lasting the season at the helm. There was no place in Louis van Gaal’s backroom for Phil Neville and it looked like his nascent coaching career had hit a roadblock. However, he’s been given a great opportunity at Peter Lim owned Spanish giants, Valencia. Vatsal Dani has his say on the appointment.
Phil Neville has joined a select brigade of British coaches to venture out of the isles. Neville, as a player, had a hugely successful career in England and chose the well trod path of becoming a coach.
The Englishman made a surprising move to Spain as he agreed to join Valencia as an assistant to Nuno Espirito Santo. In hindsight, it doesn’t seem an impulsive move by the former Everton man. For those in the loop, Neville was brought to Valencia by their owner and a partner of Neville, Peter Lim. Neville and Lim enjoy a warm relationship and this is no secret but the real twist is in the tale is Lim’s decision to get Phil Neville on board to his pet project.
Peter Lim has a reputation of being a fan boy owner due to his various investments across the globe in football and motorsports. He initially shot into the limelight with his unsuccessful bid for Liverpool FC in 2010. The Singaporean currently has majority stake in Valencia CF and also has 50% stake in Salford City FC along with the Manchester United’s famed Class of ’92, The Neville brothers, Gary and Phil, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt . The consortium also co-owns the popular ‘Hotel Football’ at Old Trafford.
Phil Neville has had an eventful life post his retirement football. From his disastrous coaching stint with David Moyes to even more disastrous stint on the TV as a pundit, the Mancunian has seen it all.
Speaking of his coaching stint, the argument could be made that he was simply collateral damage. The dramatic collapse of David Moyes at his beloved Manchester United made it impossible for him to escape the brunt. Such was the impact of the Old Trafford calamity that it almost killed his coaching job right in the bud. Although he was there at Old Trafford longer than his boss Moyes, the aftermath proved too hot to handle for the 38 year old.
After months of hibernation and retrospection, Phil followed the footsteps of his brother as he became a TV pundit for BBC’s Match of the Day programme. He was also a commentator for BBC but sadly he couldn’t match the heights of his brother’s popularity on TV. The former United man was dubbed as boring by BBC’s viewers for his “lack of emotion and ‘monotone style'”.
But according to his own admission, punditry was never his forte. He never wished to be a pundit in first place which is very evident from his efforts on TV and radio. An old interview with the Daily Mail suggests that the younger Neville always had his heart set on coaching and management,
‘If you asked me now, I’d say 70-30 I’m going into management. Though I’m not involved in any of their team tactics, I’m fortunate that the gaffer and Steve Round [Moyes’s assistant] do include me in terms of coaching videos and analysis and scouting players.
‘I jot things down. The last five years I’ve recorded every training session I’ve been part of. I watch that many games of football and I watch training sessions on YouTube. It’s not something I forced myself into doing. It’s just natural. That tells me that maybe that’s my niche. I did Match of the Day this year, which I loved as well, but I’d say I’m swaying towards the coaching side.’
Due to the recent turn of events, it was evident that Neville needed a fresh start and what place better than Spain? It is a win-win situation for both Lim and Neville. Despite all the drama surrounding Phil Neville in England, Peter Lim has made a shrewd use of his Salford City connection.
Valencia has made some astounding progress under Nuno Espirito and also have returned to the UEFA Champions League. By adding Neville in the backroom staff, Lim has not only got the huge wealth of experience in him but also a different perspective into the club’s philosophy. Neville is sort of an old school thoroughbred, who likes to play the game in no-nonsense manner. Although, this decision seems driven by Peter Lim but according to Neville’s own admission, Nuno Espirito was the man who brought him to Iberia.
“Nuno is a really impressive young manager,” said Neville.
“My contact has been through him. He’s assured; he knows exactly what he wants. He speaks perfect English and he’s taken Valencia into the Champions League in his first season with a very young squad. He has a talented team with hungry young players. They can only get better. I’ve been twice this season and been impressed by the technical standards.”
Whether he joined Los Che, with or without Peter Lim’s influence, Neville will always be an indispensable asset to any team he joins due to his upbringing in a culture which was infused with Sir Alex Ferguson’s winning mentality. Not only this, his vast experience at the highest level can only help improve the younger lot of players, especially to a squad like Valencia, which has bright core of young players and an ambitious young manager in Nuno Espirito.
Written by Vatsal Dani
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